Northeastern women’s soccer overcomes September struggles


Mike Puzzanghera

Rose Kaefer rejoices with her teammates at a game against UMass Lowell

Peyton Doyle, deputy sports editor

After a hot start to the season, the tale quickly turned for the Northeastern women’s soccer team. The Huskies did not win a single match in September and continued their winless streak into conference play. Their Oct. 3 loss to University of North Carolina Wilmington was their sixth match in a row without recording a win. 


During the stretch, sophomore defender Faith Rosenblatt, who transferred from the University of Wisconsin-Madison this year, spoke about the team’s struggles. 


“The results are getting frustrating. We just need to get over the hump to really achieve our potential,” Rosenblatt said. “Grit and grind is a huge mentality for us. 90% of the time it’s just about the grit and grind.”


As the team proved last season, one tough stretch does not define them. Following their loss to the Seahawks, the Huskies took a road trip down to Maryland. The Huskies battled Towson University in a war of attrition, topping the Tigers after 108 minutes with a goal from freshman forward Megan Putvinski, the lone scorer in the contest. 


Northeastern Women’s Soccer on Twitter: “109′ | 🚨PUTVINSKI WINS IT!!!!🚨 Megan Putvinski scores her first collegiate goal in the wee minutes of the game to win it for the #HowlinHuskies! 1-0 NU | FINAL 🐾⚽️” / Twitter


Following their battle with Towson, NU came back home to face James Madison University. Sophomore forward Rose Kaefer was the hero of the game. Her first-half goal along with 10 saves from junior goalkeeper Angie Friel helped secure another win over their fellow canines and their second winning streak of the season.  


After the game, head coach Ashley Phillips spoke about Kaefer’s season and the goal she scored off of the free-kick from Rosenblatt.


“This season has been a little challenging for Rose; her performances and minutes have been up and down,” Phillips said. “She just has come alive in the last couple of games here, and it’s nice to see her come alive and get that reward by scoring the game-winner and having her teammates celebrate her is amazing. She’s one of the hardest workers, she’s super committed and super approachable, we absolutely love Rose.”


The love for Rose surely continued into the team’s matchup against the nation’s 12th-ranked team and CAA rival, Hofstra University. 


Northeastern Women’s Soccer on Twitter: “26′ | GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!! Rose Kaefer tallies her second in as many games as the #HowlinHuskies LEAD the Hofstra Pride! 🐾⚽️” / Twitter


The match against Hofstra was again the Friel and Kaefer show, with the forward coming up clutch with her second goal in as many games to help conquer the Pride. Friel saved all seven of the shots that her opponents made on target and helped NU score its first win against Hofstra since 2018. 


Northeastern Women’s Soccer on Twitter: “87′ | FRIEL! 😥 #HowlinHuskies🐾⚽️” / Twitter


The win moved the Huskies to a record of 3-2 within the highly competitive CAA. Sophomore goalkeeper Bianca Resca acknowledged that with conference play comes a greater level of urgency and competition.


“It’s not exactly the same as playing in the playoffs but [the CAA] definitely feels like a whole new level of intensity and worry,” Resca said.


The season has presented new and old challenges for the Huskies. While there was a spring season in 2021, the fall season in 2021 was essentially summer camp for two whole classes of players. The team’s current sophomores did not have a traditional preseason last year and were just as new to it as the freshman this season. 


After not having any sort of preseason experience or housing last year, many members of the  team moved into Northeastern’s Davenport apartments for their summer camp sessions.  Those who have off-campus housing of course stayed there during the preseason, but those who elected to stay on campus roomed together.


Senior defender Grace Moore thought that this year’s preseason and housing situation helped to bring the team together. Moore roomed with freshmen Avery Levangie and Kat Marchessault and sophomores Kaefer and Gabby Scarlett.


“Living together this preseason helped a lot when it came to team building. It also was really helpful for integrating the freshmen, who would usually be more isolated,” Moore said. “For a few weeks, we spent every second of every day together. I know that may not sound like a long time, but sometimes one day would feel like weeks.”


Getting younger players like Marchessault integrated into the team has been crucial for the team’s success this year, especially on the defensive side of the pitch. NU returned its defensive stalwarts: graduate student Jane Kaull and sophomore Allie Vazquez, who started every match last year and earned CAA-Rookie Team honors. Marchessault and Rosenblatt joined the two this year to form a backline that has helped Friel shut out seven opponents so far. 


As a transfer, Rosenblatt said that she has felt very comfortable with her new team and that the preseason work was beneficial to the cohesion of the team.


“While it was mentally draining going from each activity in the summer, I wouldn’t have the same connection to teammates without the work that we had to put in,” Rosenblatt said. “The team has been super welcoming so far, the chemistry is different here than at Wisconsin, but I don’t feel like I don’t belong.”


On Oct. 17 against Elon, Rosenblatt started her 14th straight match as NU looked to extend its winning and shutout streak to four games. The last time the Huskies took on the Phoenix was in the CAA tournament in 2019, where they were upset 2-1. 


NU battled Elon, with senior forward Mikenna McManus tying the match at one goal apiece as the first half closed, but a goal in the 92nd minute for the Phoenix burnt up the Huskies’ hopes of an extended winning streak. 


The loss at Parsons on Oct. 17 put the Huskies at 3-3 in conference play, but they still are in a great position as they look down the road at the postseason. NU currently sits in third place in the CAA and would be one of the four teams to make it into the CAA tournament. The Huskies are set to play three teams with a losing record in the CAA including the bottom two teams in the conference, the Charleston Cougars on Oct. 24 and the William & Mary Tribe on Oct. 31. A win against two of those teams would secure a spot in the playoffs for NU. The CAA tournament is set to kick off on Nov. 4, with Elon hosting.